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It’s time to dive into the things Kimberly has experienced in 2019, the planned and spontaneous. Grab your tea and Boom Chicka Pop (or Hot Cheetos and Koolaid) and let’s chat.
Caution sign: my life ain’t what you may think. So don’t be surprised by the slip fallery and pretentious things I say. I am human and I don’t apologize for the way my story comes out of my brain or the way my life has chosen to fall into place. Turn your judgemental bright lights off. You’ll be doing this blog post zero justice with them on. Come at this with empathy and congratulatory yass you did dat(s). Enjoy.
For a little bit of backstory, Let’s begin on December 28th 2018. I’m in Minnesota. Living with my sister. I begin the day packing just a carry on suitcase, a thrifted adidas crossbody and my toiletries bag into my 2010 Cerulean Nissan Versa I bought from a friend of a friend nearly 2 years ago in Atlanta. The trunk stopped opening awhile ago so I had to throw everything in from the backseat. I had been living with my sister for a little over 3 months and I was moving out. I chose to move out mainly because I realized how much I valued my own space/privacy, but also because my family, whether they realized it or not, no matter how loving they could be, was harsh as fuck and I felt like I was digging myself deeper into a hole I’ve been trying to get out of for years with no help from anyone around me. The energy was no bueno. It was finally time to put all of the no buenoness behind me and put my attention on getting better. More to come on this later. I moved back to Minnesota after I had gotten a new job as an Art & Design Coordinator for an urban development nonprofit based in Portland, OR. Living in Atlanta at the time, the organization allowed me to stay in my state and work remotely. (Mainly because my new boss also lived in Atlanta and Oregon doesn’t have the brightest history with Black people. I mean neither does Atlanta, but at least I can go almost anywhere and find Blackness. In Portland, not so much) Since I had the freedom of working virtually from anywhere I thought it’d be a great idea to take this time to find my community of people and figure out where I could establish a genuine connection with others. Moving to a new city post grad left me in need of a new community. After I said this to a few people with no reaction from them I soon found out how difficult this would be. I eventually settled for finding a roommate and a new place to live instead. I was living alone in an apartment 25m from Atlanta. I first tried out a living situation with a friend from college. I won’t go into details, but I will say this: The experience taught me not to allow my fear of loneliness to guide me in the decisions I make in life. When life threatens our comfort we can do some crazy things to get that comfort back. It also taught me a lot about how ignorance guides others. Don’t get sucked into other people's bullshit. This experience also led me to lose 95% of my things and take an impromptu 24 hour drive to Minnesota, alone. I wish I were lying. If you read my 2018 reflection that’s where you can hear about the career accomplishments in the midst of all of this. Check that out because it’s pretty amazing how much I accomplished even in the midst of this chaos.
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So, I pack up my car and move into one of the nicest buildings I’ve ever lived in. I had spent the last 3 months saving $500 from every single paycheck I had in order to afford a downpayment and money for some furniture. The complex had the modern apartment made on autoCAD boxy aesthetic with blue and white exterior that lid up neon purple on the roof at night and was only 2 years old. It was close to eat street and a load of other amenities including a pinball bar and coffee shop right next door. (honestly, I soon realized how unimportant these amenities were because I had no one to share them with, the bar only served hot dogs, I don’t drink, and I hate coffee). I told myself the liveliness of the location is what I needed in order to spend the next year in mental and physical incubation. I needed to make myself better. The apartment was small. Supposedly a one bedroom, but was really a studio with a 4x4 box in the corner that imitated a bedroom. The price of housing in Minnesota is overpriced and lacks quality, so this was a steal given the newness of the building. The move didn’t start off well at all. They didn’t have my apartment ready. It still had model furniture in it and there was no one in the leasing office to greet me. Due to an interesting turn of events my sister also moved out of her apartment on the same day as me so I had nowhere to go. After a winded conversation I was able to get free storage for a year and a month free rent for the mishap. (I tried to get a free parking space. No luck lol) Once I was let in and greeted by the maintenance man I wound up spending the first 3 days in my apartment with the model furniture. One of those days was my birthday.
December 30th 2018. My birthday. My sister and niece were living with me.I had sent a text a couple weeks back letting people know I’d be unpacking, but wanted to celebrate my birthday and show off my new digs and they could come by whenever and later in the evening we could go get food/drinks. This sort of happened this way, but not really. I woke up crying and went on silently tearing up on and off for the rest of the day. What led was a number of things I’d probably sound petty or shady bringing up (someone's random morning sickness, refusal to spot me for breakfast and no attempt at a gift, getting a broken taco pin and having to ask multiple people to help me through a lost debit card situation, a dear friend, not even attempting to even wish me a happy birthday, etc), but would summarize as situations with friends and family that led me to take permanent leave of absences in many people's lives. Not just from that day, but a culmination of odd scenarios that left me wondering was I at fault or was I being gaslit? Do I deserve this? etc. I did however receive a couple of housewarming gifts from two friends that stopped by and The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America from my sister. The first gifts I had received in years. I also ordered a dozen fancy donuts from Glam Doll which turned into 2 dozen because they messed up the original design of the donuts. We had way too many donuts, but they looked perfect. I asked for purple, teal and white glazed donuts with sprinkles to match. (Yes random unnecessary details, but things that are important to me lol) They also wound up giving me ty dye donuts with the same colors. As a designer and overall oddly specific being, I’m a stickler for aesthetics. Lol I was not complaining. The day ended pretty well given its many surprises, but left me with an extreme desire to be alone. This led me to make the very tough decision of leaving family to figure their living situation out on their own. If my mentality is struggling and I’m not able to get through day to day without crying, things need to change. And they did. This begins the intense incubating session I endured for myself from January to September 2019.
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I say a couple times throughout out this that "I need to get better" like I was sick or something. I was never diagnosed with anything, but I was for sure struggling with change/transitioning, mild depression, loneliness and social anxiety, all of which began in college. Life had me held by the reigns for nearly 8 years and my everything finally had enough. Making myself better consisted of remembering who I was before college. Confident, strong, outspoken and aligned. I worked on deleting the angst I felt about how the world sees me. How I was judged before speaking on things I couldn't change. About how the world thinks I'm ugly because I'm dark, because I wear my hair natural, because I'm not skinny, because my intelligence is intimidating. All of these stupid things. Stereotypes do not matter. I worked on deleting the remorse I felt inside about not being liked. Restablishing the upmost Respect for myself because life has been trying to rip that from me. Toxic opinions do not matter. Unlearning toxic ideals and opinions, letting go of relationships that harmed me more than helped, absorbing more self love, treating my body better and building my spiritual knowledge. A lot of this I already knew, but taking time to re-establish the mantras and habits.
Here’s a thought: a lot of us receive love. We depend on love from others even though we are 100% capable of being content with the love we have for ourselves. When we stop receiving love at any moment whether it be from emotionally detached parents or bad relationships we crave the love and do anything to get that love back instead of just being content with the love we have for ourselves. This is an unhealthy way of living. It forces us to fear being alone. it’s OK to be alone. Alone is not a bad word. It is actually so important in human growth. I spent these next 9 months practicing stillness, indulging in being content with myself, general mental health and building new boundaries.
January/February - The Blur
Was a blur. If I took a shower and got dressed it was a miracle. If I went to bed before 4am I deserved a pat on the back. January and February were the toughest months of getting myself back together. All I did was work, sleep and eat. Work consisted of dragging myself out of bed at 9:55am in time for the 10am morning video call, breakfast (which was and still is a very important part of my self care. I don’t skimp on my breakfast cuisine), then creating a cocoon around myself on the couch to work the day (and sometimes night) away on adobe creative suite (if you dunno, then ya just don’t know lol), Hootsuite and Mailchimp. Only to come up for air to eat and pee. Since I didn’t allow my family to stay with me they high key hated me (they just low key hated me before then so it’s ok). I high key hated myself for the decision, but knew this was the right decision. The only person to visit me in 2019 in Minnesota was my sister once and my mother about 3-4 times. A see-saw of solitude and loneliness was a monster I ironically became friends with.
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February I was promoted to Communications Manager at my job which was the first full time salary paying job since I graduated, literally two and a half years post grad. Before this I had some great internships, jobs and positions they were just all temporary or part time. With this position I was responsible for managing the graphic design and communications for the whole organization. I spent February and March getting used to the new role, then we had a big event in April that stressed me out beyond belief. The company was going through a lot of changes which left me to do a lot of work with little support. The event was in Pittsburgh, PA, so it was a great distraction and actually a great contribution to my healing. Throwing yourself into something you’re good at, feeling needed etc, can do that for you, but it also helped me realize it wasn’t what I wanted for my future. That was the first step in making plans to find a new job.
March/April - Work, Work, Retail Therapy, Work
In order to cure my general emotional angst at the time I dove into retail therapy. No I don’t mean spending 300 dollars at forever 21. I skipped the mall and went straight for a damn Jeep dealership and bought a car. Not just a car. An SUV. A truck. A big ass red 2016 Jeep Renegade. The Black accents, boxy, yet chic exterior and all black interior made this thing sexy ass fuck. It was the security blanket I needed and the muscle to combat the stupid Minnesota winter. (My Nissan got stuck in the snow 3 times and I got 4 snow emergency parking tickets. Yeah half of them were because I just didn’t take the time out to move my car. Sue me) This beautiful car with 12,000 miles on it went on to hold space for me and give me a small portion of what I needed to keep going and lessen my anxiety when I wasn’t in my house. (my little Cerulean had a bad omen about it. I’m not really a huge fan of very aged used things. Sometimes I can feel if it has a negative aura). As I drove it out of the lot I was sad because I had no one to share this huge accomplishment with. So I called the only person I ever call, my sister. I know she was happy for me, but. Egh. I didn't post it on social media. I didn't tell people. I have no pictures.
May - Hello CrossFit
Since the work event was over, my workload lessened significantly. I was able to devote mind space to other things. For me this meant starting a membership doing CrossFit. I started May 6. It’s not as scary as people think. The only scary part is realizing the limitations you’ve allowed your body to live with for so many years. I was astounded that I couldn’t get through the work out. I could barely do 20 squats and 20 bell swings. I couldn’t do any push ups (I played volleyball in high school and could easily do 20 push ups). I was so physically weak. Crossfit never gets easier. Once you accomplish one goal you set another so you’re always pushing yourself. I was the only Black girl, Only girl over 200 lbs. It was tough getting over the mean things I would tell myself because I couldn’t keep up, but I didn’t stop. The supportive coaches were really important in the process. At the end of the 5 months I lost 30lbs. I wound up ending my membership in September because I had decided to move back to Atlanta.
All I did was work and CrossFit. I did dye my hair though. I grew a handful of greys all in about 3 months. They were too much for me to handle along with everything else so away they went. I also got a deva cut and learned how to do a wash and go! If you're a natural, find a deva cut licensed salon near you!
Giving back to the youths is something I do from time to time because it's fun and they expect you to know it all so I'm able to be a know it all. I also loved being a student so it's fun to go back from time to time. I volunteered as an urban development professional for a University of Minnesota EcoDistricts class and helped the students with their affordable housing project. I also applied to work as a teacher at Juxtaposition Arts because they had an opening for someone to do a community engagement project with the apprentices for the new park that was being built in my old neighborhood. We kayaked on the Mississippi River to check out the industrial park that was going to be torn down. I turned the position down because honestly, Minnesota didn’t feel right anymore. I hated snow. Everything was so strange and too familiar. It was a 7 on the abnormal/uncomfortable scale. Was I being Irrational? Maybe. This is what fear does to the brain. Or maybe it wasnt supposed to be a part if my journey.
August - Work Retreat
My job had a retreat in Hood River in Northern Oregon. We had meetings all day in a co-working space that overlooked the river that was packed with wind surfers. That evening we stayed at a boutique spa/upscale hostel tucked away in the mountains. I went into a sauna for the first time. On day two we went white water rafting. On the drive back my coworker and I stopped at a couple waterfalls. No lie, best vacation/retreat I’ve had in years. Aside from me having to travel to Oregon, the outing didn’t seem that pricey. It was one overnight stay and the hostel was quite affordable. Every employer should invest in their people in this way. It promotes relaxation, camaraderie and teamwork. All things necessary for productive teams. My previous job taught me a lot both good and bad, but I will definitely look back on it fondly.
September - New Beginnings
I got a new job. That's a story within itself. I’m currently working as a Sr. Graphic Designer for Atlanta's Department of City Planning (which encompasses urban design, buildings/architecture, housing and community development, zoning and mobility). The department just recently began rolling out a new brand and I’m responsible for further developing and creating design strategies to support the One Atlanta, quality customer service based initiative. I received the job online application from 2 people in my professional network. It pays to have a good network. For those who know me well, they know how aligned this is for me. It's a significant step in my career trajectory. I've been successfully building my own path doing community development, green building and interior design, graphic design and marketing all gobbled up together. It's been working quite well so far, doing graphic design and communications within the architecture/urban development industry and tons of "for fun" freelance projects to fill in my unfulfilled gaps lol. Ironically this isn't my first time working for the government. I had an internship working for the St. Paul District Court when I was 18. Which is so crazy to think about. One of those things I never yearned for, but just aligned itself.
I sold my furniture, packed up my whole apartment and threw it all in Roo (my Jeep lol short for Rouge. I just name my cars fancy color names) Remember I didn't have much to begin with so it was easy. I hit the road and took 24 hours to drive back down to Atlanta. Looking back on it I high key believe I watched Set It Off one too many times in my childhood because the scene I just described has Jada Pinkett/Stony written all over it. lol. The drive wasn't hard, just tiring and a little creepy at night when I had to stop for bathroom breaks. In all, I'd say I spent like $250 moving (not including housing costs once I got to Atlanta) and that was mainly on gas and 2 storage bins. I won’t be giving info on housing since it's my current situation and I don't need no nosey nancy's.
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October thru December - New State, New House, New job,
The job and the transition. The transition has been a lot harder than I was expecting mainly because of the sudden on rush of assimilation. I've met over 50 new people in a very short amount of time. It has been 3 months and I'm just now coming to terms and grasping government office culture and all these new people in my life. My pattern app keeps telling me I need my work environment to be like a family and it’s so true. Being surrounded by the same people everyday who have no interest in getting to know me or letting me get to know them is strange. Other than that the projects I’m working on are so mind blowingly in line to the work I’ve always wanted to do. From branding neighborhoods to helping reorganize internal government systems to function more effectively all through art and design. It’s great. More to come. OH I also got do hear Obama speak at this years Greenbuild!
In summation, no I didn’t find a dark skin glistening beau to sweep me off my feet and heal my emotional wounds and pay all my bills. This isn’t that kinda story. I am a lot better, but I’ve realized I have significant social anxieties. I have issues speaking because many people do not care or listen, which stifles me (and why I'm writing this and plan to do a number of things in the new year to finally feel heard at least for myself if not for anyone else). I don’t know many people who share my interests which is not fun. Brighter notes: My family reached out to me this year during the holidays. Surprising and pretty decent of them. lol I am doing good and I am grateful. Watch this video about the high price we pay for our fear of loneliness.
I do realize how pretentious all of this may sound. It sounds like I was sad and I spent money and made selfish decisions to combat it all. If that’s what you got out of this…*shrugs* You’re entitled to your opinion. Lol Now let's dig deeper: When life starts feeling nightmarish and like you’re at the bottom of a well, you have the mental and physical strength to get yourself out of it. Depression is not a lifestyle. Being selfish is necessary in life because if you are not good then everything you touch will also not be good. It is your job to fix it by any means necessary. Your environment has a lot to do with your inner happiness. If you aren’t content with it, change it. The food you eat. The activities your partake in, The people you spend time with day to day, your job, the way you treat yourself, what you chose to listen to everyday on the radio, ALL of this! I made changes all over the damn place. I will also admit that having a hustle hard mentality is a necessity. Yes money made this shit easier, but like I said I was working part time and still made that happen for myself. I’ve built my credit so that I could afford things I wanted when I had the means. Credit and financial competence is key in this universe. Lol you have the means to take care of yourself. I don't even know who i'm talking to lol, but It requires courage, sacrifice and tough decision making. You can do it. It’s also an ongoing process. Change is constant. You will have to do all of these things over and over again in life, but it will get easier, because you will become more wise. With respect to my religious people, still, you are your own savior. Even God says we need to put in the work to see results.
Now go take over the world. Or make 1 giant leap towards a better Quality Of Life. Then take me out to breakfast if anything I said helped. Lol
Kimberly Rashad is a dope creative professional working to support social good companies and organizations in their action for social change. Her process, design thinking and empathy first technique have been her assets in executing effective branding, interiors and communication design strategy for businesses all over the country. Get to know her on IG. Check out her work on her website.